I wish I had this three-and-a-half years ago…
This is a book that I wish I had in the summer of 2014, right before I entered seminary and solidified my formal theological education towards the glory of God and the edification of the local church. Not only is this book informative, theological, and doctrinally sound, it is also incredibly practical, in that it has “Questions for Further Reflection” and additional resources at the end of each section, forcing the reader to think more about each chapter. As I said, I wish I had this book some three-and-a-half years ago…maybe I would have made a few different decisions.
“Theological education must be academically sound; it must be grounded in the Scriptures; it must be Christ centered; and it must be ministry and mission focused.” (p4).
This work is broken up into three sections, of which the first of those is:
This section covers what the title is: an introduction to theological education. It delves into every aspect of going to school, from funding to why; from discipleship, one’s personal calling, all the way to how it will affect the spiritual formation of a person. Reading through this is something that I think goes unsaid: It’s already known (or should be) but not always vocalized/put down on paper. It was refreshing to read through the basics, as far too often the basics are left behind. I know in basketball, even the professionals, practice the basics on a regular basis. So, why shouldn’t we as Christians.
This section, which fills a majority of the pages of this book (more than the first and third combined), plays out as if it were an introductory course to all one’s seminary courses, whether they are going for their Masters of Divinity(MDiv) or Masters in Theological Studies (MTS). These chapters are strategically ordered in such a way that it would be how you would study through various theological topics. Topics ranging from Inspiration, Authority and Canonicity all the way through Ethics and everything in between (languages, NT and OT Theology, systematic theology, etc.).
Seriously, I really wish I had this book before I went to seminary.
In this section, it really ties it all together and applies it to ministering within the context of the local church. In essence, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has it right when they say all they do is “For The Church”.
From the third section, In my humble opinion, comes Chapter Nineteen, titled “Theology, Worldview Formation, and Cultural Engagement” by Owen Strachan. This chapter is one of the most important chapters in this book, if not THE most important. Here, Dr. Strachan brings the aforementioned topics (the chapter title) and how they will impact all believers in this day and age, and the many days and weeks and years to come. Engaging our culture from a properly informed Christian worldview emphasizes the importance of Biblical, theological, and doctrinal literacy, something that is greatly lacking amongst many churches. This book in its entirety helps bring that which lacks into focus, a focus on training up men and women For The Church who are well prepared to face the upcoming struggle and bring new color to such dark and dreary times that we are now living in.
Another major thing to note is the wide variety of scholarly authors that came together to contribute to such an important work. I say “important work” because I can see this becoming a go-to book to be given to those who are considering a seminary education, whether it be for a pastoral role or not. I greatly appreciate this book and the chance to read and review it post-seminary, thus I can only imagine the benefits it will give the reader who reads this before they being seminary.